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Chris Paul set to return for Warriors tomorrow vs. Wizards

Danny Emerman, Bay Area News Group on

Published in Basketball

The Warriors will begin their four-game trip to the East Coast with a full roster.

Chris Paul, the 12-time All-Star point guard, is listed as available to play on Tuesday in Washington after missing almost two months with a broken hand. Head coach Steve Kerr will have a complete array of rotation players to deploy to begin a stretch of away games against the Wizards, Knicks, Raptors and Celtics.

Paul’s return to the lineup will give Golden State a second-unit backcourt of two future Hall of Famers: Paul and Klay Thompson. But it will also give Kerr even more options to consider for the closing lineup, with those two and Brandin Podziemski probably most often competing for one spot.

Kerr described that dynamic as a “numbers crunch.” Thompson said he anticipates Paul to “right the ship” when Steph Curry needs a rest. Curry said: “You’d be an idiot to not think CP can help us.”

“When he got hurt, we were not in a great place,” Curry said Sunday. “Trying to establish our identity. We’ve had a pretty good run, built some momentum since he’s been out. But he’s such a connector and a floor general, guy that gets everyone in the right spots. So whether it’s when I’m on the bench or we’re on the court at the same time, it’ll hopefully elevate us to another level.”

 

Paul has been sidelined since Jan. 5, when he suffered a fractured left hand while going for a long rebound. The 38-year-old has dealt with that same or similar injury several times during his 19-year career.

During the All-Star break, Paul was cleared for basketball activities. He told Kerr that he played a bunch over the break and was a full participant in practice this past week. The team expected him to be cleared to return at some point on their trip, so getting him back against Washington is a sign that the final stages of his recovery went smoothly.

Paul was one of Golden State’s more consistently productive players this year before the hand injury. He was a part of seven of the Warriors’ 10 most effective lineups and often finished games. His all-around skill set and basketball IQ allow him to blend in with a variety of teammate combinations and his playmaking instincts should be a boon to Dario Saric, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Thomspon.

In 32 games this year, Paul is averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.


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